Belgium's second most populous city after Brussels, Antwerp is a cosmopolitan city with an exceptional cultural, historical and architectural heritage. Beyond its port and diamond trade, the Flemish city abounds in museums, historic buildings and architectural marvels, all set in idyllic surroundings, between the green banks of the Scheldt and Galgenweel rivers and the many parks and gardens. But Antwerp is also a modern, vibrant city, with trendy bars and restaurants, avant-garde fashion designers and a wealth of street art. With JOOKS, discover the city of diamonds with our 10 audio-guided tours!
Born from a small port near a jetty, inhabited by a modest, Roman-speaking population in the 7th century, Antwerp owes much of its growth to its strategic river position along the Scheldt. Even today, a third of Belgium's exports pass through the Flemish city, making Antwerp Europe's second-largest port.
Although the city experienced a certain decline between the late 16th and early 17th centuries, it has rebounded and now welcomes many visitors every year in search of historical and architectural treasures, as well as shopping, fashion and design.
Diamonds, architecture and culture
Since the 19th century, Antwerp's history and economy have been intimately linked with diamonds. Thanks to its geographical position and the excellent reputation of its cutters, the city quickly established itself as a key player in the diamond trade. Several of our itineraries will take you through the alleys of the diamond district, nestled in the heart of the city and home to 1,700 diamond companies and 4,500 diamond dealers. Considered one of the largest diamond trading centers in the world, this district bears witness to Antwerp's important role in the diamond industry. If you're curious, don't hesitate to visit the Diamond Pavilion at MAS or the DIVA Museum to learn more about these jewels.
As you stroll through the city's streets, you can't fail to admire its eclectic and vibrant architecture. Stone, iron, glass, gilding... Antwerp's architecture mirrors its history, culture and ever-evolving identity. Its harmonious blend of historic and contemporary elements offers visitors a captivating journey through time and design, making it a destination that appeals to both history buffs and lovers of modern aesthetics.
As well as being the diamond capital of the world, Antwerp is also a leading cultural center. Its art scene is marked by the legacy of Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, home to Flemish and Dutch masterpieces. Antwerp also shines in the world of fashion, known for encouraging the innovative designers of the "Antwerp Six" and for maintaining a vibrant fashion district. The Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the ModeMuseum contribute to the city's fashion identity, while events such as the Antwerp Fashion Festival celebrate its design prowess.
Despite its rich past, Antwerp is not just a historical city. Street art has become as much a part of the diamond city as Brabo, the Scheldt and the Tower of Our Lady. From the tags of graffiti pioneers to the immense murals of street artists, the city is an open-air playground and museum for urban art lovers. The Zomerfabriek, a creative center, is home to street artist Gijs Vanhee's iconic Antwerp mural, a celebration of color and culture.
The city's commitment to street art is also evident in its participation in initiatives such as the Tizarte street art festival, where international artists converge to leave their mark on Antwerp's walls. From thought-provoking murals to playful installations, Antwerp's streetscapes are a celebration of the city's modern creative energy. JOOKS offers two routes that will take you on a tour of the masterpieces that adorn the city's walls. Keep your eyes peeled!
Beyond its lively streets and historic monuments, Antwerp is surprisingly rich in green spaces. Antwerp's many parks and gardens bear witness to the city's commitment to providing ample green space for residents and visitors alike. The Rivierenhof park, a vast green setting, offers a haven of relaxation and recreation with, among other things, a zoo, an open-air theater and a rose garden. From lakes and canals to wooded paths, this park invites you to relax in the heart of nature.
For a touch of enchantment, take our Three Parks for the Price of One tour to explore Middelheim Park, an open-air museum that harmoniously blends art installations and lush landscapes. Antwerp's commitment to sustainable living is also evident in its urban agriculture initiatives, such as the Rooftop Farm and EcoHuis Antwerpen, which present innovative approaches to combining urban living and nature. These islands of greenery in the heart of the city offer a welcome respite from Antwerp's urban bustle.
If you're looking for a bit of freshness, why not take a breath of fresh air by the water? The Scheldt and the Galgenweel play a starring role in our Run Along Water hiking route. Thanks to two unique passages in a tunnel under the river, you can discover both the verdant left bank and the beautiful architecture of the Scheldt quays on the right bank.
Find all of Antwerp's routes on the JOOKS app.
Run, walk or cycle with JOOKS, from the Grand-Place to Notre-Dame Cathedral!